Despite a relaxation of some restrictions regionally — and Salt Spring Island’s fire danger rating moving from “extreme” to merely “high” — at least for the moment — officials stress the campfire ban is still in place on all the Gulf Islands, and fire season has really just begun.
Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue Chief Jamie Holmes said summer forecasts from the provincial forest service were calling for a drier-than-normal June and July.
“And they said the ‘good news’ is that August is average,” said Holmes, who had recently attended the BC Fire Expo in Penticton, where the forecast was discussed. “And all the departments around there looked at each other and said ‘well, that’s great’ because their August average [rainfall] is zero.”
Holmes said the prediction system was highly sophisticated, and well-relied upon — but had some simple indicators despite the “complicated science” of the full forecast.
“They’ve really found over the years that if we have a wet June, we have a quiet forest fire season,” said Holmes, addressing the fire board Monday, June 19. “And if we have a dry June, we have a busy forest fire season. The ‘tale of the tape’ will be at the end of June, but [right now] they are predicting a busy year.”
The campfire ban, Holmes said, is an attempt to minimize human-caused forest fires so firefighters have enough resources to combat the fires that start naturally during dry conditions.
“Putting a campfire ban in place early on in the season helps that out,” he said.
The Coastal Fire Centre is also keeping similar prohibitions in place on Vancouver Island.